From 20 March – 11 October The Queen's Gallery will show Painting Paradise: The Art of the Garden, an exhibition of paintings, watercolours, ceramics, furniture and tapestries, celebrating the idea of the garden in art, for over 400 years.
A visit to The Queen’s Gallery typically last an hour and a half. There are people in uniforms (Wardens) who can help you with any questions during your visit.
The Entrance Hall
The Entrance Hall is a large space. Like most tall stone spaces, it echoes. Visitors queue to buy tickets, and then enter the exhibition or go into the shop. It can be more difficult to hear voices clearly in this hallway, because of the levels of background noise. Staff try to speak as clearly as possible.
Before you enter the exhibition you must go through security. All visitors must follow the instructions of the wardens (dressed in uniform). Visitors must show their ticket at the desk and will have their bags manually searched by a warden. The warden will be careful and try to put things back as they were.
You will then be asked to walk through a metal detecting arch. This arch makes a loud noise if it detects something metal. If that happens, staff will use a hand-held detector and wave it around your body to find out what set-off the alarm. The detector should not touch your body. Often a watch or metal belt buckle will have caused the alarm to sound. You are then given your bags again.
You will go through a set of doors into a lobby area.
The Gallery lobby is quite dark, and the light levels change dramatically from the Entrance Hall. There are patterns on the floor and the echo is worse than the Entrance Hall.
There are four options from the lobby:
1. The Cloakroom
Straight ahead, on the left, is a ‘cloakroom’ where visitors can leave bags and coats if they wish. Any large rucksacks or suitcases must be left in the cloakroom. The warden behind the desk will then give you a ticket. Give this back to them at the end of your visit, and they will give you your belongings. If you are not sure whether your bags are too large to carry round with you, you can ask the warden at the cloakroom desk.
2. The Lavatories
These can be found in the cloakroom area. There is an accessible lavatory with a wheelchair sign on the door. It can be used by any visitor who cannot use the other lavatories. The other lavatories are through a doorway, opposite the accessible lavatory. They are indicated by a sign of a man and a woman on the wall.
3. The Lift
The Lift is in the far corner, near the accessible lavatory. It will take you up to the exhibition level on the first floor.
4. The Staircase
If you do not wish to use the lift, go back towards the entrance. There are two flights of stairs which will also take you up to the exhibition.
Here you can ask to borrow one of these:
1. Multimedia tour
The warden will tell you how to use it. The multimedia tour tells you about the exhibitions using spoken word, images and video clips. It has some background music. You can stop and restart the tour at any point. The tour last approximately 50 minutes. The tour can be used with or without headphones. If used without, you should hold it like a mobile phone.
2. Plain English Script
Suitable for deaf and hard of hearing visitors who cannot listen to the multimedia tour and other visitors who would prefer more simple, written information.
Translations of the main information panels in the Gallery into a number of different languages for non-English speakers.
4. Large Print Text
Copies of all the text (labels and panels) in the exhibition.
5. Magnifying Glasses
For visitors who might find it difficult to see some of the detail in the works in the exhibition.
6. Neck Induction Loops
For visitors who wear a hearing aid, to help them hear the audio guide better.
7. Family Activity Bags
These typically contain a selection of games and trails for families with children.
The Millar Learning Room:
This is on the left of the staircase, slightly behind you as you stand at the audio desk. It is a space for all visitors, particularly families, where they can relax and explore the Painting Paradise exhibition in more detail. Inside, in the left-hand corner there are two touch screen computers and a large screen on the wall, which visitors can use to browse online exhibition material. The left-hand wall looks like the inside of a potting shed. The right-hand wall has information on the Victorian language of flowers. In the corner, on the right-hand side of the room, there is a table with scent jars and scented pots, for visitors to smell items associated with the garden. In the middle of the room there is a table, with scent pots and board game. There are two book cases with books, suitable for both adults and children, to read to explore the exhibition themes in more detail. There are several stools and two window-seat areas – there is a down-draft from the air conditioning system.
There are five rooms:
The Pennethorne Gallery – the Green Room:
The Nash Vestibule – the narrow room showing ceramics.
The Nash Gallery – the Red Room:
The Chambers Gallery – the large Blue Room:
The Small Chambers Gallery - the small Blue Room.
All of the rooms are light and spacious except for the narrow Red Room and the small Blue Room. Visitors start in Pennethorne, the Green Room, then go through the Nash Vestibule into the Red Room before retracing their steps into the Green Room and turning right immediately into the large Blue Room. The exit is through the small Blue Room.
Exiting the Exhibition
When you leave the small Blue Room you come into a brightly lit space. There may be a slight flickering effect from the lights. In front of you, at the opposite end of the landing, is a place for visitors to return their audio guide. You put the headphones on the rack and the audio player machine in the box on the desk. To the left is a short staircase which leads to staff areas of the Gallery and a lecture space, but this is not part of the exhibition.
You can give back other borrowed guides and equipment at the Audio Guide desk.
Remember to collect your belongings from the cloakroom, downstairs, if you left some there. You exit the same way you came in.
The entrance to the shop is in the Gallery Foyer, you can visit the shop before or after the exhibition.
The shop is very brightly lit. There are central ceilings lights and a lot of glass cabinets with lights. To the left, as you enter, there is a ramp taking you up to the higher level. The ramp brings you up near the jewellery counter where there is a lot of bright light and glass. There are also three stairs up to the higher level. These are made of stone, and can be difficult to see when coming down. Please be careful. You exit the shop the same way you came in.